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No funds for failure as grants slashed

AFTER the euphoria of London 2012 and the glitz of the BBC's annual sports awards spectacular, came the ceremony with teeth yesterday.

Successful sports counted a bonus in increased funding from UK Sport, but some competitors are considering their futures after support for several sports was completely terminated.

UK Sport announced record £347m funding for the next four-year cycle, covering the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and Paralympics. They gave dramatic increases to the governing bodies of athletics, cycling, equestrianism, rowing, canoeing, boxing, and gymnastics, and a 43% increase overall for all Paralympic sport.

UKS has guaranteed no reduction for sport north of the Border for the next four years. "It will continue at the same level of financial support at worst," confirmed Mike Whittingham, director of high performance at sportscotland's institute of sport.

However, many UK governing bodies were left reeling. Swimming, which has lost its national coach and performance director since the Olympics, where they won only three medals, has been given a yellow card. Their funding has been cut from £25.1m to £21.4m over four years, and they were told their award is guaranteed for only a year. To continue at this reduced level they must show they have put their house in order. This comes just a day after their grass roots and development budget was slashed by Sport England, because participation figures have fallen short.

The rehabilitation of boxing, whose recent history saw them completely cut due to funding mismanagement, seems almost complete, endorsed by the biggest increase of any sport: 44%, to £13.8m (£4m more than the previous four years). But three-quarters of that remains conditional on resolving outstanding internal issues.

Basketball, handball, table tennis, wrestling, men's water polo, indoor volleyball and Paralympic volleyball, fencing, and men's goalball have lost all of their funding. This prompted outbursts from governing bodies and on social media, amid accusations of money wasted on programmes now ended.

Basketball have confirmed they will appeal and others seem set to follow. There are two options, which have to be lodged by January 11 and 18.

The only volleyball survivor is women's beach, with the sport's funding cut from £3.5m to just £400,000.

The UKS chief executive, Liz Nicholl, said: "We want to be the first nation in recent history to be more successful in the Olympics and Paralympics post-hosting." Team GB won 65 medals in the Olympics and 120 in the Paralympics.

UKS chair Sue Campbell admitted some sports would be devastated by their "no-compromise approach", insisting, "it is not a punishment – we don't punish."

Swimming, the major casualty, vowed to step up performance. David Sparkes, the chief executive officer, "recognised the need to rebuild confidence that we can deliver medals at Olympic level consistently, before we can demand more investment."

Zara Dampney, who won one pool stage match with Shauna Mullin in the beach tournament at Horse Guards Parade was jubilant, tweeting: "So happy that UK Sport have invested in our road to Rio 2016!! Lets get this show on the road.... £beachvolleyball £boom Xxx"

But a tweet from handball's Holly Lam-Moores showed other emotions: "Devastated, we inspired a generation this summer but now unable to capitalise . . . a sad, sad day for most GB team sports."

A comment from GB Volleyball performance director Kenny Barton, the former ceo of the Scottish game, suggested some players might quit. He hopes to find alternative funding for the axed disciplines. "I am numb . . . I don't necessarily agree with the pursuit of medals only," he said. "We are due to play in the European League next year and at the moment we can't do that . . . Maybe the players will want to carry on."

Whittingham noted that a quarter of the BBC's sports personality short list were Scots, and approved of the funding announcement. He also noted Scots had claimed 24% of Olympic gold medals, plus 11 Paralympic medals.

"Sportscotland has been in discussions for several months with Scottish governing bodies and will announce our investment decisions in February. The investment decisions announced today allow us to protect our high performance athletes who are working towards a best ever result in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014."

Contextual targeting label: 
Non Football Sports

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